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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A to Z - 24. August Escape

August Escape

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

August 10

Toby Harris ran into me yesterday. Just about literally. Last evening after work, I was walking down the river road into East Akron for a few supplies, when a pickup truck barreled past me on the narrow road, then braked hard to a stop. Its taillights glowed in the dust it had kicked up. Instantly, I got ready to bolt, but there wasn’t much cover, and anyhow, I’d been spotted.

I didn’t recognize the truck at first, but I sure knew the big, black haired boy who emerged from the driver’s side door. I hadn’t seen Toby for weeks. We never did get together after he stopped by at the farm. In fact, apart from my very quiet walks into East Akron, I haven't gone much of anywhere on my own.

“Hey, Eric!” he called out, striding my way. “Where the hell have you been hiding?”

I stood there, like an animal caught in the headlights. What else could I do? I shrugged.

“You haven’t come back to town with Eustace.” It was a statement, not a question.

“No. Not in a while.”

“You didn’t call or anything.” His tone was almost hurt. I couldn’t blame Toby for feeling that way. It must have felt like I pretty much ditched him after he came to see me. No matter what I might have said that day, he’d have every right to feel hurt.

“No. I’m sorry. Eustace has kept me busy all summer.”

“Yeah, but Eric, the phone? It works?”

I shook my head and scuffed my boots in the dirt at the side of the road. I couldn’t even look Toby in the eye. The whole stupid situation just swelled up and choked me. How do I tell Toby that a phone doesn’t really work for me? That I don’t have one because I live in Eustace Whitley’s barn?

Maybe Toby wanted to be friends. I'd have liked that, but somehow, it hasn't happened yet. We've both been busy, and the Fourth of July kind of hung over us like a dark cloud. But I wanted it. Friendship.

He stood there, waiting.

"You know what happened at your house on the Fourth of July, right?" Shit. How did that happen? It just came out. I hadn't meant to say anything. Since when did I start telling people secrets? Trusting people?

I couldn't stop myself. “I didn't…get together with Maddie. I got into a fight…”

“…with your cousin Donnie, I know that now,” Toby finished my sentence for me.

That little tidbit just stunned me. How did he know? When did he find out? And wait…I’d been beaten up and humiliated by my ‘cousin’ Donnie Anderson? That pinch-faced redhead was an Anderson? Oh, God.

Meanwhile, Toby waited again for me to pick up the thread.

“I lost. He…Donnie…beat me up pretty bad. I’m s-sorry Toby, I felt so ashamed and sick, I didn’t want anyone to see me…”

I was losing it, getting close enough to the truth without having to go into the gory, smelly, messy details again.

“So bad that you made him give you a ride home, huh?” Toby asked more conversationally.

“No, I walked home,” I answered before I could think.

Toby’s jaw dropped. “You walked home that night? How long did that take?”

I shrugged. “Dunno. I got to work on time, though.”

“And then you worked the next day? Shit, man, you’re tougher than you look.” Toby gave me the hint of his sunny smile.

“Anyway, Eustace gave me an earful that morning, and I left that message on your phone – and then you came to the farm – but I was ashamed, you know? I didn’t think you’d want a stupid little dipshit kid like me around.”

“All because you got into a scrap with Donnie?”

“You didn’t see me after. And I’m not proud of what I did, Toby. I shouldn’t have run off. And then I got so mad at myself I just…stayed away from town.”

“So what? Does this mean we’re not friends anymore?”

I looked up at him. I know my face looked pretty bleak. “Can we start over?” I held out my hand. “I’m Eric.”

“Nice to meet you, Eric. You headed into the village?” Toby’s grin broke out.

“Yep,” I replied, a small smile beginning to tug at my mouth.

Toby turned to his truck and motioned to me. “Come on, get in, time’s wasting.” Once in the truck, he inquired “Where you going in town?”

“Just to the mini-mart," I said quietly, "how about you?”

“I’m going to the ball field at the old High School. Some buddies of mine are getting a little pickup game together.” Toby spoke easily over the road noise. He looked over at me. “You want to play?”

I dearly wanted to be accepted, to be part of Toby’s world again. But I shied away, like the scared little idiot that I am. I'm not ready to try again. Not yet. “Sorry, Toby. I can’t play for shit. Besides, I gotta get this stuff and get home.”

He looked at me, shaking his head. But smiling, too.

“Yeah, and if you’re walking, you’re gonna get home way after dark,” he snorted. But Toby wasn’t mad at me and that was a good thing.

We cruised into the village, and Toby dropped me off at the store. I waved goodbye, thanked him, and began walking to the entrance. But Toby called to me out his open window.

“Listen, Eric, we gotta get you out more. For an Anderson, you lead a pretty sheltered life.”

I smiled and laughed about that, then waved as he roared off. But I thought about that one for a while. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it all day.

It makes me happy that Toby might still be my friend. Maybe we can do something safer – with just a couple of people, or maybe just me and him and Candace. It would be good to get out a little, I guess. But I have to say that the farm seems pretty good to me, too.

Anyhow, I’m clearly tagged as an Anderson. And Andersons raise hell. At least it seems they fight a lot. Hell, I got beat up by my own ‘cousin.’ How did he know that? Did Toby ask after me down in Andersonville? If he did, then somebody must be confused. If he called that old man, I bet he got nothing coherent out of him. Shit, maybe there are so many Andersons down there that they can’t keep track of them all. I sure hope so.

August 15

Well, Toby was right. I got out more. I am so, so out. I’m out of the barn, out of my job, and out on the road again. Tonight, I’m somewhere way beyond New Salem, beyond a big interstate highway, which I avoided.

No truckers for me.

So what happened? Two words. Ambrose Whitley.

I guess he couldn’t stop investigating me after grilling me on his July visit to the farm. Something must have tipped off the detective in him. I guess he got to thinking pretty hard about me because something didn’t work out quite right in his mind. Can’t really fault him for that. If you pushed even a little bit at my story, the whole thing would have collapsed.

Ambrose must have done some pushing.

All I know is that he hadn’t arrived by the time I quit work Friday night. As usual, I walked down the road, and hooked around back to my quarters in the barn. But after dark, the barn light came on, and I woke up to hear Ambrose and his dad talking. They must have been arguing, and they'd carried their dispute out beyond the rest of the family.

“I don’t care what you say, Ambrose. The boy’s a decent kid.” That from Eustace. Who were they talking about?

“Dad, I’m sorry, but that boy is not an Anderson.” Ambrose’s voice, hard, insistent. Oh, wait a second. That’s me they’re talking about.

I heard someone stomping around the floor down below. Eustace. “Well, is that a problem? I’d say that’s a good thing.”

“Dad, you don’t know who he really is. We don’t know where he comes from, or what he’s up to.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Look Dad,” Ambrose was trying to sound reasonable. “Eric – if his name really is Eric – lied about his name. He’s probably lying about his age. What else has he lied to you about?”

“You said that before,” Eustace replied. “But I tell you, I’ve never caught him in a lie.”

Ambrose changed his approach. “Dad, let’s look at some facts. First, I nobody in Andersonville has ever heard of this kid.”

My stomach lurched. Ambrose talked to a real Anderson.

“Second, I called up the school, and finally talked to someone who's not on vacation. They've got no record of anyone named Eric Anderson."

"Could be home schooled," Eustace put in obstinately.

"Come on, Dad, you think anyone in Andersonville has the patience for that kind of thing? There's no way the boy is an Anderson;” Ambrose went on, “he sure as hell isn’t belligerent like half that clan. He doesn’t seem to smoke, swear, fight or get drunk and disorderly.”

Silence. Did Ambrose know about the Fourth of July?

“Well, maybe he’s not an Anderson, and that’s no bad thing,” said Eustace, stubbornly. “Maybe he’s living with one of them.”

“But nobody down there knows anything about him. Or at least, they won't admit to it, which isn't good news, either. Face it, we don’t know where the boy lives, or what trouble he gets into after work.”

“Dammit, Ambrose, the kid works hard enough that I bet he’s too tired at the end of every day to get into trouble.”

“He could be doing night work for Vic Anderson or maybe one of the others…”

Night work? What did Ambrose mean by ‘night work?’ Silence again.

“Or maybe you’re just being overly suspicious, son,” replied Eustace at length.

“Maybe, Dad. But you’ve got to admit he’s as thin as a rail but eats like a horse. He never, ever wears a short-sleeve shirt, even when it’s hot as blazes outside. Sounds to me like our Eric could be hiding a drug problem. I want to know if he’s shooting up, and if so, what – and where he gets it.”

More silence.

“And there’s been a whole string of local burglaries from New Salem to Akron and on south that my colleagues around here have questions about. Somebody’s doing break-ins like clockwork, and I’d bet one of the Andersons is fencing goods. Could this be our boy Eric, maybe? A drug problem would explain the break-ins, and a farm job is great cover…”

Ambrose trailed off.

“Hmph.” Eustace was weakening but not convinced. I’d run into ‘hmph’ before. “I’ve left him in charge of the farm with the house wide open, and nothing’s gone missing. He could’ve robbed me blind any number of times.”

Ambrose kept going as if he hadn’t heard. “There’s another possibility, too. Our boy Eric could be on the run from some other jurisdiction. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s wanted someplace in connection with some interesting event or another.”

Now my blood ran cold. Ambrose got that last part right. He spoke gently to the old man. I almost didn’t catch it.

“Dad, I know it’s a shocker, but this is the reality I deal with all the time. To me, Eric looks like a mystery. It's possible he might have a drug problem. Kids with drug problems are seriously bad news. They can be unpredictably violent and lethal. I just don’t want you to be a victim.”

Silence. Then Ambrose spoke again.

“When Eric comes to work tomorrow morning, I’m going to take him to the local police station up in New Salem. We’ll ask him some questions and get to the bottom of things. If he's wanted someplace else, we'll find out. And if Eric comes up clean, you can have him back Monday. But I doubt that’s going to be the case.”

Eustace sighed.

“All right, son," the old man sighed. You know more about these things than I do. Maybe you’re right about him. There's always been something a little mysterious surrounding Eric, I’ll grant you that. But I always just chalked it up to him being an Anderson. I just can’t believe he’d be into all that stuff you talked about.”

Ambrose chuckled bitterly. “Yeah, well, people surprise you every day, dad.”

There were footsteps toward the barn door. The light went out, and it was quiet.

My heart, on the other hand, was racing. As soon as I was sure I wouldn’t be heard, I got moving. I crammed clothes and as much other stuff as I could into my trusty old backpack. Food. Soap. Journal. Towel. Flashlight. Water bottle. Couldn’t forget that. No room for my old sneakers. No place for the laundry liquid I bought. My oldest, tattered jeans and a t-shirt got neatly folded up next to them. Eustace would find these offerings sometime next winter. I’d be long gone by then. Or in jail.

I briefly thought of writing some kind of note, but what would it say?

‘- Sorry, I can’t stay to finish the summer. I got called away on urgent business?’

‘- Sorry I lied to you for six weeks. I’m not really a criminal, but you can believe what you want to?’

‘-Sorry you got stuck hiring a stupid loser like me?’

I decided to avoid the whole thing altogether. One thing would be certain, though. Ambrose would go nuts tomorrow, wondering who told me to run. Any conspiracy theories he had would be confirmed.

I slipped down the ladder and down to where the sheep were penned up. I looked around, sadly. For the most part, it had been a good six weeks. That’s about all I should have been able to expect, I guess. I ghosted quietly out of the barn and away from the Whitley farm. If I hustled fast enough, I would be out past New Salem well before daybreak. I did, and I was.

August 19

A busy Friday afternoon, and here I am at a campground and picnic area. It’s been a long week of very long days, almost all on the road, sleeping out in fields or under bushes and such. Since running away from the Whitley farm, I’ve seen five or six police cruisers on the road, most of them state cops. Each time, I’ve gotten lucky, because I’ve been able to duck into cover or keep out of view when they approach. I try to duck into cover for just about every car, though. I’ve tried to keep to the smallest, least traveled roads, so it’s not impossible. Maybe they’re not looking for me, but I don’t want to take that chance.

I wonder how much pull Ambrose Whitley has. Could he order a big search for a kid like me?

I seem to have wandered my way into a big state park of some kind. The farms and country houses disappeared, and the roads all pretty much run through a forest of varying thickness. I’m back to handfuls of food for breakfast, and (if I can make it stretch far enough) supper. I have money to spend – still over $1200 at last count – but there isn’t any place to buy basic supplies in the state park, so I’m back to going very, very hungry. God, how I miss midday ‘dinner’ with Eustace.

It’s a weekend, so I’m not surprised this campground is crowded to overflowing. Nobody challenged me when I just stepped over the low fence and walked right in. It doesn’t look like the park staff does much to keep tabs on everyone. There are picnic shelters and campsites all laid out on the state land along a pleasant little river. Kids can wade and splash, and families can fish, or go hiking on trails, or just hang out. I stopped mostly because of the smell of food cooking on what must be a dozen camp grills.

I probably shouldn’t have, because now I’m just even hungrier. It’s crowded, though, so I have a good chance to blend in. What’s really good about this place is that it has a couple of centralized “wash-houses.” In each one, there are taps for clean drinking water (a big plus for me), deep sinks for washing clothes, and hot (!) showers. I can’t wait to find a quiet time to wash my clothes and take a real shower for the first time in months. I know I kept a bar of soap somewhere.

That can wait for later. Right now, I’m on the lookout for picnic leftovers that have been abandoned. If I spot something left behind, I’m going to make a meal of it and tame the growling beast that has come to life under my ribs.

Every day, I wonder about the farm and about how Eustace is. I miss the old man, the chores, the animals, and the barn. I miss having a place to call home, however uncertain and wrong it was. I should have known it couldn’t last.

August 24

I have been so sick. Unbelievably sick.

Maybe it was something I ate, maybe not. Friday night, I woke up in my hiding place in the woods with a wicked cramp in my gut, like someone was poking me in the stomach with a pitchfork. I wanted to cry out, but I knew I had to stay quiet. I lay there, in agony, as long as I could stand it.

The first time I vomited, I did it back in the woods. Then my bowels began to lose it, and I had to grab my bag and stagger to the wash house as quickly as I could. Funny, I've been using the woods half the summer, but I still run for a toilet.

I ran at both ends off and on for the next day and a half. I shivered almost uncontrollably, yet my face felt like it was burning up.

The only good thing about being at the campground was that I could practically live in the toilet area while I puked and shat. I got some pretty funny looks from people over the past couple of days. Tough. It’s not like anybody took a second to ask me if I was OK, to actually care. Several people saw me at times while I was heaving into the toilet; all of them just looked the other way. Once in a while, I’d go lie down in my hidden spot in the woods. I wasn’t at all hungry, but I tried to drink water, trying to flush out whatever bug I’d got. Yesterday, I got out of the campground and began hiking toward what I think was west.

Hiking is hardly the word. I was still feeling dizzy and sick, but something told me I had to get going. Before I left in the early pre-dawn light, I made sure to get a hot shower. That helped me feel a little better, though I was still light-headed. I didn’t get to wash my clothes, because there was no place out of sight to dry them.

I walked slowly, but I willed myself to stay on my feet most of the day. I slept outside again, this time in a scrubby clearing, but it started raining in the night.

Unable to sleep, I rose again, drank the last of my water, and dragged myself to my feet.

I wandered down the road some more. By dawn today, I seemed to have gotten out of the park. As the grey skies misted off and on, I made my way into another little town, crossed yet another river, and kept the bright spot in the clouds behind me, moving west. But not before stopping at a grocery store tucked down a little side street. At the Fresh Farm Food Store, I bought some road rations – bread, cereal, crackers, fruit – and I refilled my water bottle.

All morning long, I kept my eye out for police cars and cruisers. I hated the road I had chosen. Yes, it followed a large river, but it was busier than the last route I’d been on. I got sprayed quite a bit. Worse still, lots of people could have spotted me – assuming anyone was still looking for me.

As I stumbled along, still feeling a little shaky, it seemed that maybe I’d come to the end of things, but I just wasn’t ready to admit it. Why couldn’t I have just gotten sicker, so that I might have died under that bush? Why keep on running to stay alive? Is living really worth all the fear and disappointment?

The gloom under the clouds was an imperfect metaphor for my mood.

About noon, a huge bridge carried the road high over the river. I stopped in the middle, gazing out over the water passing beneath. I was high enough over the water that if I jumped, I’d probably die from the impact, if I didn’t drown afterwards.

It looked like an invitation – the open arms of the river, waiting to catch me. Never have to be hungry again. Never have to hide or run again. Never have to feel ashamed of what I am anymore. Never have to feel humiliated about my scars or my stupidity or my clothes or my smell or anything else. Nobody will miss me or care.

I stood there, in my heavy, wet jacket, reflecting for a while. I gazed at the flat, stippled surface of the river in the rain. Wasn’t jumping the better choice, really? Better than starving to death when the money ran out? Better than being sent to jail - or worse, sent back to live with Uncle Ray?

I stared down, thinking hard about it. My foot crept up onto the railing. It wouldn't take a moment if I'd just do it.

I was startled by the blare of a car horn, and I jumped back, away from the rail. My heart hammered away in my chest at the surprise. Somebody just having fun by spooking a random hiker, I guess. I stood there in the rain, chest heaving, watching the traffic go by. I'd been distracted long enough to get me walking again.

All afternoon, I thought about how close I had come to jumping. Part of me had wanted to do it. I still could go back and jump, I told myself. Or, I could just step in front of the next car speeding along the highway. But I’m too much of a coward to do either one, which is obvious, because I’m still writing. Right now, I’m so broken, I can’t even decide to die. Death will just have to come and find me when it’s time, I guess. Maybe soon.

I managed to stumble into another town on the river before dark. This place is no prize, and I doubt I’ll find any lawns to mow here. It looked like it was going to rain some more, so I started to investigate places to get under cover. If I wasn’t going to kill myself today, I might as well try to be comfortable tonight.

Stupid, isn’t it? But then, that’s me.

I walked around and determined that there weren’t any likely places to hide. This town – Carbonville – can’t be much bigger than New Salem and doesn’t look like it has much to offer. However, it does boast a 24-hour laundromat, the Suds Bucket. Open 24 hours! Just the place for me to get out of the rain.

In addition to the usual washers and dryers, this enterprise contains a television, some tattered novels, a restroom, and vending machines. Not that I’m buying food here. I entered the Suds Bucket well after dark. I shared the place with a changing cast of characters as the evening wore on. For a while, I pretended I was waiting for a dryer to finish. Later, when the room was empty for a minute, I hit the restroom, changed into my cleanest clothes left in the pack, and washed the rest. It took exactly one load and one soap packet.

It’s easy to write to the rhythm of the washing machines. Kind of soothing, if you don’t mind the TV blaring in the background. Maybe I’ll get a good long nap in. I’ll try to make the one dryer load last the night.

My deep appreciation to Craftingmom for her generous and kind editing for this and every chapter.

Please leave reviews. Your comments of all stripes and varieties are welcome.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

On 11/12/2015 02:25 AM, Mikiesboy said:

I've had issues with Eric's reactions to things in this story, but this time, not so much. I hated cops, I never fought them when they arrested me, mostly cuz they are bigger usually and could easily put me down. But I avoided them and any help they could possibly offer, so I understand Eric's reaction.

I also get that temptation to end it ... suicide seems painless, I've been there more than once.

This chapter felt right to me, though sad because I'd sort of hoped Eustace would have stood up for Eric a little bit more. But blood is thicker than water.

Nice job, Parker

tim

With Ambrose questioning, questioning, the need to flee became inevitable. It was sad to have to write it, anyway. Ambrose isn't a bad guy, but he's doing what comes naturally to him - asking questions, and getting at the truth. Unfortunately, the truth is way too risky for Eric. Eustace wasn't happy about giving in, we could tell; he surely hoped Eric would prove clean as a whistle. And if not for his accursed dead father, that's exactly what would have happened...a great pity that the dead father still screws Eric over, even from the grave.

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Oh my, this was a sad chapter. It was difficult to read and left me feeling quite sad. This is a testament to your skills as a writer that your characters and story can have such an impact on the reader. Excellent job! I know its not going to happen but you may want to give Eric a winning lottery ticket, a loving family and a handsome boyfriend so we can all have sunshine and rainbows everywhere :-)

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On 11/12/2015 02:45 AM, JimP said:

Oh my, this was a sad chapter. It was difficult to read and left me feeling quite sad. This is a testament to your skills as a writer that your characters and story can have such an impact on the reader. Excellent job! I know its not going to happen but you may want to give Eric a winning lottery ticket, a loving family and a handsome boyfriend so we can all have sunshine and rainbows everywhere :-)

Don't we all wish that the lottery had those prizes? This was a hard chapter to write, because I really loved so much of what was happening to Eric at the Whitley farm. But Ambrose wasn't about to stop asking those pesky questions...thank you so much for reading and reviewing.

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A very good, if unfortunate, chapter Parker!
We new it was coming. It was inevitable with Ambrose sniffing around.
Eric's despair is heart wrenching. And winter is still coming.
Now take care of our boy! Please.

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On 11/12/2015 03:17 AM, skinnydragon said:

A very good, if unfortunate, chapter Parker!

We new it was coming. It was inevitable with Ambrose sniffing around.

Eric's despair is heart wrenching. And winter is still coming.

Now take care of our boy! Please.

That it was inevitable doesn't make it less sad. I wonder what Eustace felt when Eric didn't show up for work? Or Ambrose, for that matter? Kind of a pity our narrator isn't omniscient this once...Thanks so much for your review, and for reading!

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I read this story and want to cry for Eric. He's had it so hard and he's all alone and none of it is his fault. I think we all knew he would end up leaving due to Ambrose's nosing around but at least he got some time to rest from the traveling and now has some money. I know where I want this story to go, but I have to wait and see. This story is an engrossing one and I look forward to more.

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Well, it had to end some time. After living in relative safety for a while, being out there again is hard. On top of this getting sick is even harder. Right now he is without hope. A very sad chapter.

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Sooner or later the people he has left behind at the farm will start figuring things out and see he is not a drug user or thief. Somewhere down the line they will figure it out that he had nothing to do with his fathers murder. I just hope he finds the life he is so craving soon. Great story!

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It must have been sad chapter day today. Most of my fav stories made me teary eyed..
We hoped, but we knew it couldn't last. I think if Eustace found out first maybe it could've worked out. Toby was so nice too. Now he's on the run again. Eating bad food, getting sick and weak. If he's feeling like he is out of options, I hope every day he's out there, one small thing gives him hope until he runs into a streak of luck again.. At least he can buy more than just a box or cereal to tide him over...

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On 11/12/2015 04:45 AM, avidreadr said:

I read this story and want to cry for Eric. He's had it so hard and he's all alone and none of it is his fault. I think we all knew he would end up leaving due to Ambrose's nosing around but at least he got some time to rest from the traveling and now has some money. I know where I want this story to go, but I have to wait and see. This story is an engrossing one and I look forward to more.

Poor Eric was just doing his best. Perhaps he got lucky that Ambrose and Eustace were arguing so he could hear; at least he didn't get sent back to his Uncle Ray or to jail.

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On 11/12/2015 05:37 AM, aditus said:

Well, it had to end some time. After living in relative safety for a while, being out there again is hard. On top of this getting sick is even harder. Right now he is without hope. A very sad chapter.

It was even sadder to write it, as I said in another review. Eric nearly succumbed to the call of the river; wonder who hit the horn or why? Wonder if that person knew what he had done to save a life that day?

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On 11/12/2015 06:01 AM, slapshot said:

Sooner or later the people he has left behind at the farm will start figuring things out and see he is not a drug user or thief. Somewhere down the line they will figure it out that he had nothing to do with his fathers murder. I just hope he finds the life he is so craving soon. Great story!

This is the part of the story that would have been interesting to write, but neither of our narrators could be there for it: the next morning when Eric doesn't show up for work. How Ambrose will connect Eric to his real story is anyone's guess.

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On 11/12/2015 06:25 AM, Defiance19 said:

It must have been sad chapter day today. Most of my fav stories made me teary eyed..

We hoped, but we knew it couldn't last. I think if Eustace found out first maybe it could've worked out. Toby was so nice too. Now he's on the run again. Eating bad food, getting sick and weak. If he's feeling like he is out of options, I hope every day he's out there, one small thing gives him hope until he runs into a streak of luck again.. At least he can buy more than just a box or cereal to tide him over...

Oh dear. Sorry to add one more sadness to your chapter load. Eustace comes from a world in which the people who slept in your barn came knocking at the door looking for work, first. And they were usually older. There were many wonderful things about this summer idyll, but now it's done with, and Eric will have to make his way again. And autumn is coming, let alone winter behind it...

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Oh no, Zoo Bad about leaving the Farm, it was such a good Place for Eric.
If only he would have tried to trust Estace and Ambrose with his secrets, I am sure they would have been able to help. But I also can relate to Erics fear, I just wish he could have stayed there.

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On 11/12/2015 07:35 AM, ninecila said:

Oh no, Zoo Bad about leaving the Farm, it was such a good Place for Eric.

If only he would have tried to trust Estace and Ambrose with his secrets, I am sure they would have been able to help. But I also can relate to Erics fear, I just wish he could have stayed there.

Missing the farm probably hit hard late into the day he hurried away. For a space of six or seven weeks, it was the closest thing to home he'd ever experienced since his mom left. Not sure whether Eric would want to trust Eustace with secrets; still less Ambrose. They should have confronted him gently with what they suspected and let him talk it out. Didn't work that way, and more's the pity.

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Eric... On the road again. And feeling so worthless. I just hope he'll meet someone who he can trust to be honest and get help. He can't keep running. Ambrose would have turned him over to the proper authorities, so I understand his decision to leave.

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On 11/12/2015 11:35 PM, Puppilull said:

Eric... On the road again. And feeling so worthless. I just hope he'll meet someone who he can trust to be honest and get help. He can't keep running. Ambrose would have turned him over to the proper authorities, so I understand his decision to leave.

What a great pity that the proper authorities would be unlikely to have much pity; jail (or its rough equivalent) for the time it would take for the truth to come out and be verified, and then into the tender mercies of Uncle Ray. No, Eric is probably right to flee. It's a pity, too, because Ambrose isn't a bad guy. He's only looking out for his aging father, who lives in an isolated house in an increasingly dangerous world.

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I actually think if Eric explained everything to Eustace he would be pretty forgiving. Eric would have to be totally honest with him though -- honest about his abuse and why he ran away from his hometown.

 

So you're giving us snippets of information and flashbacks on Toby's life (I'm assuming it's Toby's pov that's in italics), and why would you do that if he was just a small, supporting character? I'm hoping when Toby finds out about Eric bailing on Eustace (and him), he'll set out to try to find him. I can hope, right? lol

 

At least this time Eric has money. He needs to be very careful though where he stays and the people near him. There are thieves everywhere. :(

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On 12/22/2015 04:54 AM, Lisa said:

I actually think if Eric explained everything to Eustace he would be pretty forgiving. Eric would have to be totally honest with him though -- honest about his abuse and why he ran away from his hometown.

 

So you're giving us snippets of information and flashbacks on Toby's life (I'm assuming it's Toby's pov that's in italics), and why would you do that if he was just a small, supporting character? I'm hoping when Toby finds out about Eric bailing on Eustace (and him), he'll set out to try to find him. I can hope, right? lol

 

At least this time Eric has money. He needs to be very careful though where he stays and the people near him. There are thieves everywhere. :(

You might be right about Eustace. He's clearly a good man. But Eric / Stefan has not had a life that leads him to trust anyone. He expects the worst because it has happened to him. Eric has enough money to eat, at least, as you say. Poor Toby seems to be the harbinger of doom, despite being a cheerful and friendly soul, which he surely is. Thank you for reading so far, and especially for your reviews. I really do appreciate your commentary.

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Well, Eric had a good run with Ambrose.

 

I guess Eric didn't get Giardia because he got over it too quickly (2-6 weeks is typical). I don't think he would have survived it if he had…

 

At least he has clean clothes now! (Some complain about smelly homeless people, but you can't wash your clothes unless you have something to change into, you have to have cash for a laundromat, and showers aren't always available – don't get me started about 'bird baths.')

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Another great chapter even though it was a rough one to read. I hope that Eric will soon be able to settle down somewhere and be able to stay there for longer than he was able to stay at Eustace Whitely's farm. I figured that Ambrose wouldn't let things be he had to keep digging into who Eric really is and then comes up with the idea that he's breaking into homes in the area. I'm glad that Eustace stood up for Eric while Ambrose was the telling him all about how Eric wasn't an Anderson and he wasn't staying with anyone down in Andersonville either, Eustace didn't think Eric was a thief at all. 

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3 minutes ago, Butcher56 said:

Another great chapter even though it was a rough one to read. I hope that Eric will soon be able to settle down somewhere and be able to stay there for longer than he was able to stay at Eustace Whitely's farm. I figured that Ambrose wouldn't let things be he had to keep digging into who Eric really is and then comes up with the idea that he's breaking into homes in the area. I'm glad that Eustace stood up for Eric while Ambrose was the telling him all about how Eric wasn't an Anderson and he wasn't staying with anyone down in Andersonville either, Eustace didn't think Eric was a thief at all. 

 

Yet imagine being Eric. The fright of anything to do with the police, even the Ambrose that he knows, remains very real. Eustace thinks he knows Eric better than his son does, and Eustace is right. However, the old man also senses the mystery about Eric, and perhaps he, like Ambrose, wants to get answers to questions Eric has no intention of being present to answer. It is heartening as an observer to see Eustace stand up for Eric, but that's not enough to keep him from running. Thank you very much for your comments, and for reading the journal.

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Great chapter. With Ambrose insistent questions, it became obvious that Eric would have to leave the farm. At least he has some money to keep him going.

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3 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Great chapter. With Ambrose insistent questions, it became obvious that Eric would have to leave the farm. At least he has some money to keep him going.

Ambrose was way too persistent. Eric was lucky to get out when he did, otherwise he was going to wind up in exactly the wrong place. As you say, he's at least fortunate to have more money in his pocket than when he started at the farm.

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